November 30, 2007

3.5 Things

I have to speak at a school today, so, must leap out the door. BUT!

1) I WILL POST ABOUT CRAZY FARM PLAN ON MONDAY.
I will. You in the back? Is that MIR? Or Aimee??? Either way, shut it. Because I already started it, PINKIE SWEARSIES, and I even got brotherly dispensation to explain the EYEBROW THING, I just ran out of time.

2) Imma be on the radio with my good friend and fellow novelist River Jordan on Saturday…Tomorrow, the show runs 4-6 CST. River and I went to college together where she was a fantastic playwright and I …talked about being one and perpetrated terrible poetry while lurking about in coffee houses. HEY, I was 17 when I met her. You can listen live here or hear the podcast after. The links to her PODCASTS and where you can hear it live on the web tomorrow are a click away.

3) TIME SNUCK PAST ME, and without me EVEN KNOWING, pocket gods has happened. Little tiny POCKET gods in Alabama, and it has Christmassy red foil lettering, and it is fa-la-la-la-la-la-ing it’s merry way into Targets and Airports and grocery stores ALREADY, though the release date is officially I think December 4? Anyway. It FITS into most stockings, and it is THE perfect under-ten-bucks notiony sort of present, because I ask you, what says CHRISTMAS better than murder via a tequila bottle upside the head? NOTHING, that’s what! I feel Southern fried violence is also a great way to celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, winter solstice, and the birthday of your pesky friend who foolishly left her mother’s womb in December. *vigorous nodding*

PS, or possibly 3.5) Also, if you SEE IT someplace, tell me where please? I have yet to see it because I try not to leave my house in December for any venue where retail might be happening, BUT I WANT TO KNOW if you see it wandering about the world being tiny and dear. My mom called yesterday to say Daddy had found it in WALMART. Hee!

If it went MISSING, its picture on the milk carton would look like THIS:
pocketgods.jpeg

Posted by joshilyn at 9:48 AM | Comments (19)

November 28, 2007

The Importance of Being Allison

So there is this writer named Allison Winn Scotch, She wrote this:

lostnfound.jpeg

She also has the same first name and last initial of Scott’s sister, the one we STILL call Auntie Ass-ilon because that was how Sam said her name as a toddler, and it’s still funny to me. Yes. I do know I am 12.

Allison Winn Scotch is in the GCC with me, but we have never actually gone shoe shopping or curled each other’s hair or anything. Last month, I wanted to send an e-mail to Scott’s sister, and when I typed Allison into the address field, an address obligingly filled itself in, and I hit SEND. The address belonged, of course, to Allison the AUTHOR, not Allison the sister. SO basically I sent Allison Winn Scotch, whom I have never met, our Christmas WISH lists. I’m sure she is quite relieved to know which specific Barbie Fairy-topia and Pokemon loots to get my children, not to mention the things *I* asked for….I hope she gets me the rich people’s sheets with the super high thread count!

If that wasn’t humiliating enough, not two weeks later I sent her YET ANOTHER email meant for my SIL. This one was worse. This one read, in part:

“Here is a shameful true thing about your brother: I am getting ready for Christmas and I just found YOUR PRESENT FROM LAST YEAR in the decorations. Yeah. Scott NEVER MAILED THE PACKAGE!!! SO you get double Christmas this year. *sigh* I am very glad your present was not a puppy \…”

The fact that I found her DATED Christmas present a year later is SHAMEFULLY true. The whole e-mail is MOSTLY shamefully true. The false part may not be readily apparent to newcomers and I am SURE it was not apparent to the accidental Allison the author who got the email, but Oh Best Beloveds, oh my droogy regs, YOU SEE THE LIE, DO YOU NOT???

Do you believe for ONE second that THE SUPREME AND HONORABLE SCOTT accidentally packed Auntie Ass-ilon’s present into a box of ornaments?
Yeah, me neither.
And yet I blamed him, see, because Ass-ilon is HIS sister, and she has to forgive him. Also, Ass-ilon would KNOW it was actually someone less CONSCIETIOUS than Scott, some mercifully anonymous person whose name, perhaps, rhymes with Schmossilen who packed away her gift for an entire year and forgot she never went to UPS.

This would be no big shakes, except! I was supposed to mail ALLISON THE AUTHOR a signed copy of gods in Alabama for a charity auction. I signed it, and then the amiable and diligent Scott packaged it and addressed it and mailed it. But not a week before the alleged mailing, she got the email containing the SCURRILOUS SLANDERING LIE that would indicate that sometimes Scott does NOT mail things and they end up in weird places.

Pop quiz hot shot: Has the signed book arrived?

Um, no. Scott mailed it almost a week ago, and yet, the signed book has not arrived.

It should have been there Tuesday. Scott is POSITIVE he mailed it, and you know, if SCOTT says it was mailed, then nothing has EVER been mailed-er, and if *I* had been in charge of it, we would no doubt one day find the book under the ground beef in the back of the freezer, or perhaps abandoned beside the slinky display at the Dollar Tree Store. Which is why I was not in charge of it.

It seems The USPS is playing at silly rabbits with it, but….Lordy, I am sure she thinks that book will come sometime just after the demons strap on ice skates, because the guy who swears he mailed it is the guy I LIED about in an e-mail I accidentally sent to the person who is hoping for mail from him, and if you followed that incredibly long convoluted sentence, you win a tootsie pop. And I need to INHALE!

Perhaps Allison will forgive me if I tell you about THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND.

Natalie Miller has a bright future ahead of her and is using her determination and smarts to get her—and the senator she works for—where they need to be, regardless of whom they step on along the way. Until, on the very same day, her doctor gives her the shocking news that she has breast cancer and her boyfriend dumps her.

She decides to take on her cancer the way she does everything—with steely determination. But as she becomes a slave to the whims of chemo, her body forces her to take a time out. She gets a dog, becomes addicted to The Price is Right and embarks on a mission: She is going to track down the Five Lost Loves of her Life and figure out what went wrong…

Cosmopolitan calls it, "too good to pass up. You'll laugh a lot (and cry just a little) as Natalie rebounds from the big C and reinvents her life."

I sent three questions to my sister in law, but I eventually managed to get them to Allison, too.

JJ: Your main character seems to have a lot in common with you. You’re both ambitious and stubborn. How is she/he different from you?
AWS: It’s so funny, writing fiction, how people assume that because you wrote a character, that you somehow must BE a character. Certainly, I identify with Natalie, my headstrong protagonist, and her voice and personality came easily to me. Her competitive streak and desire to win definitely resonated with me as well, and yes, while I’ve never been sick enough to worry about my mortality, I’ve also been in situations in my life in which I’ve wondered how on earth I would piece things back together, much like we all have. But that said, that’s probably where our common ground ends. Natalie has a mother who isn’t terribly warm, and since The Department’s publication, I’ve always felt a wee bit sorry for my own mom because she is supportive and nurturing, and I’d never want anyone to assume that the character I created was based on my mother! Natalie also has a difficult time making the distinction between winning at all costs and winning for a purpose, and I’d like to think that I know the difference: I don’t delight in anyone else’s misfortune and believe that there’s room enough in the world for all of our success. This is something Natalie has to learn along the way. And she also discovers that the things that make life fruitful – friends, family, a confident sense of self – don’t automatically land in your lap, and that chasing down success rather than these aforementioned blessings won’t fulfill you. My life is rich in so many ways, and I’m lucky enough to appreciate the wonderful balance that I’ve achieved, whereas again, for Natalie, this is something she’s yet to learn.

JJ: I know you blog yourself over at Ask Allison. Why do you blog and does it feed you or take energy from you?

AWS: Well, I started Ask Allison about a year and a half ago, partially as a promotional tool for my upcoming book release but also partially because I wanted to counter the Miss Snarks of the world and offer some insight into our industry from a writer’s perspective and a kind one at that. Don’t get me wrong: Miss Snark provided invaluable information to so, so many readers and writers, but I’m not a huge fan of dismissing people or making them feel like idiots. We all started out as newbies at some point, and man, I’ve certainly asked my fair share of beginner questions, so my blog hopefully informs and educates without belittling anyone. These days, I’m not just answering questions, I’m chatting about anything and everything related to writing and my life in general. And you know, it both feeds me and takes energy away, if that makes sense. The truth is that I’m super-busy and some days, I just don’t feel like blogging. I mean, on my list of things to do, that just falls completely off the paper. But then I realize that people are reading and learning and engaging in a dialogue (including myself), and that’s why I do it…and that’s the part that fills me up.

JJ: Oh see, I never thought Miss Snark was negative. I loved how she kept the idea that if you WRITE WELL and NEVER SAY DIE you CAN find your agent, your editor, your readership. She was sharp, certainly, and blunt and honest, but under the wit, her messages were positive and encouraging. I adored that blog and even now I send people to read all the archives over before they start querying. I know what you mean though--- I lot of industry blogs depress me because they are SO bleak.
Tell us about how Natalie comes full-circle in the book and how it relates to your own life?
AWS: It’s funny: on the surface, The Department is a book about a young woman who gets cancer, but to me – and to many readers, so I’ve been told – it’s about much more than that – it’s about a young woman who is trying to figure out her life, what’s important, what’s not, what her purpose is, whom she loves…all of those big questions that so many of us wrestle with as we forge our way to adulthood. And certainly, as I was crafting Natalie’s story, a lot of my own experience rattled around in my mind. For example, Natalie decides, as part of her quest for self-awareness, to track down the five loves of her life and ask them what went wrong. And while, um yeah, I’ve never specifically tracked down my exes, I have thought long and hard about those relationships – sometimes I still do – and have tried to grow from those experiences and reflect on how they helped make me into who I am today. Additionally, Natalie unpeels her life, much like an onion, until she sheds all of the layers that protected her from who she really is and who she needs to become. And I think a lot of us can relate to that – I tried on several career hats until I found my groove as a writer – and I’d think, like Natalie in the book, that just because we make a wealth of mistakes, that this doesn’t mean that we can’t correct our course or be granted eventual happiness. That’s the beauty of life, and of, I hope, this book.

THANKS ALLSION!!!!

PS – JUST as I was posting this I got an e-mail from Allison….THE PACKAGE ARRIVED!!! SCOTT IS DA BOMB WITH A LARGE SIDE OF DIGGETTY!

Posted by joshilyn at 8:49 PM | Comments (6)

November 27, 2007

4 Things I Watched

1) PROJECT RUNWAY is stomping fiercely about in teetery boots again. OH! PLEASURE! I missed you Heidi! I especially missed your cheerful “Oh hi” noises, and you look great…though it is weird to see you not gestating a little Seal baby. Tim Gunn, I have hardly known how to carry on without you. NINA! How I have missed your vicious hatred of anything that looks like it has been touched by 1987. I am SO with you on that, Nina. Mr. Kors? Your shoes are too expensive. Just sayin’.

Best line so far came from Heidi, about THIS dress, which had a LONG nightmare of a train thing that kept tripping the model. If you did not see it, it was like 30 more feet of that PURSE attached to her butt…

projectrunway.jpg

Heidi: It looked like the model was pooing fabric.

Early favorites include Victorya (She has that fancy Y!), Hot Rami (bald hot Rami, he is called in some circles), and !!!!! dark horse Chris March, who cried when he saw Sara Jessica Parker. I have BIG love for the Chris March. He is who I WANT to win based on interviews and his purple evening dress. I LIKE HIM. I think he is NICE. I also like the drama and the volleys of offended blinking generated by the designer I call Flock of Seagulls, but I can’t remember his name. I have utterly LOATHED his boxy clothes, both weeks now, and am expecting him to perpetrate shoulder pads any second.

2) NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Cormac + Coens + cast = best movie I have seen since Pan’s Labyrinth and best English language movie I have seen in a good ten years. The word Friend-O now makes my spine jerk six left out of my body, quiver in the chill air, and then snap back into place with a twang. I am thinking about that movie----it was so layered and smart and its images are resonating with me still. It had the tiniest grace notes, so tiny and sharp and bright you could perform laser surgery with them. If you see ONE movie this year, this is the one movie to see.

3) ENCHANTED

And then the VERY NEXT DAY….I took Maisy to Enchanted. Going from No Country for Old Men to Enchanted is like stepping out of a war zone into the middle of Disneyland. Enchanted is all things prance-ful and sweet, and (!!!!) the ALL TOO SMALL part of NANCY is played by Idina Menzel, my favorite Broadway star, best known for playingn Elphaba in Wicked. It took me half a scene to recognize her because she was not green, and WHY didn’t she have a SONG? She was not quite wasted in the part, I wouldn’t say that, but… well watching her play Nancy was like watching Mohammed Ali box a kitten. She was bigger than it.

4) The Crazy Farm Plan, slipping away into the night with a bag of crap and a jaunty hat.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:05 AM | Comments (16)

November 25, 2007

Mouths of Babes

Two so-super-sugared-cutesy-they-are-sticky-kids-at-Thanksgiving stories, and then we will move on from this fattening holiday to the next one.

DIGRESSION: I have a message for whatever marketing executive came up with the idea that it was OKAY to put EASTER Cadbury eggs in red and green tinfoil and call them ornament eggs:

Dear Jerk-face,

The whole point of Cadbury eggs only coming at Easter is that I can fit in my pants. And now you SNEAK THEM IN at Christmas? Buddy, you are going to the SPECIAL hell. The. Special. Hell.

Balefully,
Chubby

Cutesy kidsy story 1, which is, mercifully, not at all racist.

Maisy has picked up a Holy Prayer Voice. You know the one? It is very melodious and tuneful and fruity, and she CLASPS her little hands and composes her face into a calculatedly angelic expression, peeks around to make sure all eyes in the room are upon her, and then she says things like, “Oh Holy father! Up in Heaven! …” etc tec.

Today, for example, she was praying in my big bathtub. (She wanted a bubble bath in the round tub) I was in my bedroom folding laundry, and she got up on her knees and knelt in the tub, bent her head, and prayed in LOUD, mellifluous and very PUBLIC PIOUSITY, “OH dear Lord! In Heaven! Please help me get froo my Bath! Be with me until the end of my bath, and even after. When I am getting dry. With the towel Mommy needs to get me. Amen.”

She put the PAUSES in after every fragment, just like a TV evangelist.

OKAY so, on Friday, she wanted to bless the leftovers. So we let her. For this to make sense, you need to know she calls my father “Papa,” and that Papa was an airborne ranger…

Maisy: *in the MOST SYRUP-DRIPPY HOLY VOICE EVER, and said voice goes rising to a dramatic crescendo in the caps part* Oh Dearest Jesus! And God, too! Fank you for our soldiers in a war! Pwotect them! And fank you for Papa, who was a soldier. Papa went to Vietnam. And he fought. He FOUGHT! HE FOUGHT AND FOUGHT! Until….HE JUST COULD NOT TAKE IT ANY MORE! Fank you for him and all the Vet-tra-tans! No really, God. FANKS!!!!!

She KILLS me. The day she learns to correctly pronounce TH, my heart is going to CRACK.

Cutesy Kidsy Story 2, which….well…

Anna’s 6 year old nephew had to – heavens forfend – put on NICE CLOTHES to go to Thanksgiving dinner. He was VERY offended. Anna was sent to WRANGLE him into a collared shirt and khakis, and he complained bitterly the whole time.

James: Aunt Anna, WHY can’t I just wear my T SHIRT?

Anna: No, James, we need to look nice, for Gramma. Let’s get changed.

James: *Looks at her blankly* I want to wear my JEANS.

Anna: James, this is Thanksgiving. It’s a very special holiday, and you need to look NICE to go to a Thanksgiving dinner.

James: I know all about it. They told us at school, and Aunt Anna? My teacher showed us a picture of the FIRST Thanksgiving, when the Indians came for dinner? And THEY looked AWFUL.

Anna: *trying SO hard not to DIE of laughter* James…put on the shirt.

James: They didn’t even HAVE shirts on!

Posted by joshilyn at 7:43 PM | Comments (14)

November 21, 2007

Things That Taste Good in Your Mouth

Mir is having ten people for Thanksgiving. She is all about the sweet potatoes and the seating charts. Me? I am all about “I put the year old turkey in the trash and called Honey Baked Ham.” I think it was the Aimee comment that said, “EAT HAM AND LIVE!” or perhaps when Peggy said, “it is only a freezer, not suspended animation….” That cracked me up.

Sister Schubert has kindly made yeast rolls and pre-frozen them for us. Scott is grilling asparagus. I am making Fat Potato Fat Fat Casserole, which, oh BEST! BELOVEDS! If you have trashy Irish potato-craving genomes you MUST make it this year. Even if you came as a genetic stranger to the potato, but came with an open and willing heart, and felt an immediate love for that humble root-starch (I refuse to call the dern thing a vegetable) that was ROMANTIC instead of familial, Fat Potato Fat Fat is SO decadently perfect you must make it. To eat it MORE than twice a year would cause, well, heart failure and death, BUT! To eat it less than twice a tear is to never have truly lived at all.

It’s what they serve as a meal before they hit the Ferrero Rocher, way up there on Irish Mount Olympus, home of the big butt gods.

Here is how you make it:
Take 8 med. potatoes, peeled and cut in large pieces.
Boil in salted water ‘til tender.
Dip potatoes from water (save water) into buttered casserole/baking dish;
while potatoes are hot, add
½ stick of butter (chopped in pieces);
4 oz. Cream cheese (chopped in pieces);
8 oz. sour cream;
salt and pepper to taste.
Use potato masher or large fork and mix ingredients well.
If mixture is too dry, add a little of the water you saved--couple tbs. at a time.
Do not overly cream potatoes; they should be a little lumpy.
Smooth out and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. (I use a lot!) The powdered kind is better than the grated. It browns better and gets crusty.
Dot with butter.
Bake in 375 degree oven ‘til heated through and cheese is browned.
Take piping hot casserole dish and spoon to closet, squat there saying NOM NOM NOM until it is all gone.
Serve family that orange crap with the ‘mallows on top.

SEE! Easy! And SO SO GOOD.
My Mom-in-law is bringing fudge. And thus themeal is done.

This year, when we go around the table, I will say I am thankful for:
Life saving anti-turkey comments
HAM
Low maintenance in-laws who make fudge and would rather NOT spend 10 hours cooking
Library Journal (!!!!)

(I SWEAR I will stop posting all these reviews, it is OBNOXIOUS, I know, but sit back, eat Fat Potato Fat Fat and FORGIVE. This is the LAST one I pinky double swear---from now on I will just put them up on the REVIEWS PAGE…but you know, here I am, a little more than 90 days from book release. I LOVE my job but…This part is nerve wracking. When reviews first START and you remember how exposed and out there you are, launching this little boat full of people you love (even though you made them up) and then you wait to see what readers think. This book, too, is a stretch for me in several ways, a little out of line with what you might EXPECT from me, and while I think this is a GOOD thing, there WILL be some backlash, so these reviews are like a PAD of happy for the hard parts to land on.)

SO TODAY, yes, we are thankful for Library Journal, and we are thankful for HTML BOLD CODE, so I can make my FAVORITE PART be all FANCY and NOTICEABLE. That’s the part I am tattoo-ing on my left buttock!:

On the heels of the successful Gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia -both #1 BookSense picks-Jackson again reinvents the GRITS (Girls Raised in the South) novel. Quilt artist Laurel, her game programmer husband, David, and their 13-year-old daughter, Shelby, lead a seemingly charmed life in a serene Florida suburb. But when the ghost of a drowned girl awakens Laurel, the veneer of that life seems ready to crack beyond repair. Can Laurel trust her flamboyant, out-spoken sister, Thalia, to help as old family secrets emerge with dizzying speed? With the appearance of a ghost on the first page, you'll feel compelled to race to the end, but slow down for Jackson's great descriptions-you'll be rewarded for the effort. Jackson illuminates not just the complexities of family love as a source of safety and support but also the complexities of danger and death. The life-affirming epilog provides satisfying closure; libraries will want to own all three novels.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS BBs – I will see ya post-ham-coma.

Posted by joshilyn at 10:52 AM | Comments (26)

November 20, 2007

You a BIRD! (Possibly a bad one)

HELLO! Are you prepping for Thanksgiving? We have last year’s turkey still in the freezer from when we forgot to cook it. I’m not sure what we ended up doing? Do you think we can cook that turkey NOW? It is neatly packaged and has never been unfrozen and looks like any other turkey…I pulled it out to thaw. Do you think we will all die of Evil Meat?

I don’t really CARE for turkey. Maybe I should put it in the trash and see if it isn’t too late to get a Honey Baked Ham. I could make corn pudding and green beans and call it a day.

Sorry to have gone silent! I was in Fairhope, possibly my favorite city-lette in the universe, catching up with the plethora of writers I love who live there and participating in Southern Writers Reading. That fest is like my yearly lost weekend. I can’t explain to you what a hair pouch is, or why MC HAMMER meant to sing about it and forgot, and why it is good if someone comes up and yells YOU A BIRD in your face…these things are Fairhope things, and you should just COME next year. Maybe YOU will get a YOU A BIRD face-yell and you can stay at the Grand Hotel and do all your Christmas shopping!

Then, there was NO INTERNET yesterday, and we called COMCAST and waited on hold forever hearing a recorded voice babble on about how they are all Comcastic and stuff, and finally a human came on the line, or the voice of something PURPORTING to be human ( though I suspect otherwise, ) and said there was no outage in our area and scheduled a service call for a HUNDRED MILLION YEARS IN THE FUTURE, and I was equal parts disconsolate and righteously irked UNTIL I realized that the dog-n-kitten show had taken it on the road and unplugged a vital plug thing. HEH.

BUT! I do not even feel bad for all the VERY BAD WORDS I called them in my head, because Comcast not working is a sore place that has been poked into a perma-bruise. Comcast is like the little boy who cried, “I SUCK!” They HAVE sucked! Sucked SO many times that when the cable doesn’t work, I go from not remembering they exist to wishing wolves WOULD come eat them, BOOM, instantly, in half a heartbeat.

AT ANY RATE, I am VERRA VERRA happy because the first review for TGWSS happened…Publisher’s Weekly. I was NOT expecting reviews already, and they liked it they liked it they really really liked it. Pub Weekly is an industry review – it’s for booksellers and distributors and such, so it comes out a few months pre-pub, but this is EARLY! ANYWAY usually industry reviews are about 80% summary and 20% review, and in this one, the tone of the summary and the review parts are ALL POSITIVE and lovely and the whole thing makes my heart to sing. It says:

Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances… What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel’s finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water.

HUZZAH!!!!!

How tragic that JUST after this review, I am destined to die of bad meat!

Posted by joshilyn at 6:26 AM | Comments (26)

November 16, 2007

Sleigh Bed Prevention, Part the Two-eth

SO. We went Furniture shopping.
To do the one pretty room bedroom thing.

And we went all over what we could afford and where that intersected with what we wanted and we made our Christmas list to include all the little things we weould need to sass it up, like PILLOWS and such, and we spent a day going to the stores that had well made furniture in our pre-decided price range, AND at one of the stores we found a set we LOVED and the pieces we liked best all fit harmoniously in our room and came in under our budget EVEN with delivery, and the saleslady, (let’s call her Moira, for no reason) was helpful without being pushy, and la la la this certainly is a very cheerful little story about happy furniture buying up until the moment that I called up Moira and said, “We would like to buy this furniture.”

At which point the planets aligned against us, fate convened a smack-down committee, and Moira, squatting dead center in the web-hub of bedroom destiny, was taken over by a commission-hating band of brain spiders from space whose mission is to bring our planet into the federation of intergalactic communists by infesting sales people and making sure no one gets to buy stuff.

Innocently, not understanding that the COMMIE SPACE SPIDER INVASION WAS ON!!!! I called Moira.

Me: We have decided we want the furniture we discussed – can we just order it via phone now or do we have to drive back out there?
Moira: Phone is fine. I just have to send you a fax authorizing the initial charge on your credit card. You just sign and fax back and we are go!
Me: Okies, well my husband could go by his office tomorrow, so perhaps you could fax it there? Please send it ATTENTION SCOTT. *gives her the number*
Moira: Super! I’ll get right on that! Yes indeedy! We will make your species our furniture-less slaves!
Me: What?
Moira: I said, “I am going to fax it right now.”
Me: Great! He is going to hop in the car and pick it up.

Then Scott, who has swapped his job around so he can work from home most days, made a special drive into the office to pick up a fax that was not there.
He came home, faxless, and I called Moira.
Me; There is no fax.
Moira: Oh – right! FAX! Sending now!

*ten minutes pass.* Phone rings*
Moira: What was that fax number?
Me: Numbernumbernumber. Please send it attention Scott, okay? He won’t get it if it is not sent ATTENTION SCOTT. And are you really faxing it now? Because he works from home most days, and he is driving into his office especially to get it tomorrow.
Moira: Going right now. This second. NO! REALLY!

At this point, I need to be able to type that little symbol in music that means go back to the beginning and repeat exactly. Because that’s what happened. We lathered, we rinsed, Moira cackled, and we repeated. Each time,. Scott left in the middle of his working day at home to go into his office to get a fax who wasn’t there. It wasn’t there again today, Hughes Mearns fans are no doubt thinking, and they are right. It wasn’t there again today three TIMES, over a 6 day period.

FINALLY! Tired of obeying a purely metaphorical musical repeat symbol, I called and said: HI! SO HI! Remember I told you Scott works from home? Well, every time you SAY you are sending, he drives half an hour to GET it. And then it isn’t there. SO! We are done playing that. Now we will play a new game where you call AFTER it is sent and he goes and gets it!
Moira: Super. Sending right now. I will call back when it is sent.

*ten minutes pass.* Phone rings*
Moira: What wass that fax number again?

*ten minutes pass.* Phone rings*
Moira: It is sent.
Me: Really?
Moira: I have the confirmation right here.
Me: SWEARSIES???
Moira: Pinky Swearsies.

*Scott drives to office.*
GUESS WHAT?!?!?! THERE WAS NO FAX! THAT’S WHAT!

I was SO mad I did nto call, but THIRTY MINUTES after Scott home, MOIRA called to ask why WE had not sent the fax BACK.

Me: … Did you mark it “attention Scott?”
Moira: Oh. So I need to mark it attention Scott?
Me: … Yes.
Moira: I will go fax it again right now.
Me: *having grown wise to the ways of wily space spiders* Do you have the number?
Moira: Of course I do! *pause* Maybe you better tell it to me again, so I can…check it.

WHen the fax finally arrived, it was just a fax that said we authorized Moira to charge X amount to our credit card. It didn’t say we would, in exchange, get furniture, and it didn’t say, what pieces of furniture we might or might not be getting.

Scott: If I fax this back, what are the chances that Moira will order the correct furniture?
Me: I would say 50-50, with the other 50% being the likelihood she will forget we exist and not order any furniture at ALL.

SO! Scott went all the way back out to the furniture store—a solid hour long drive each way through miserable traffic --- and found a manager and ordered the furniture, and she apologized and gave us 5% off, and you want to know the KICKER? I feel HORRID! Sick in my stomach and GUILTY because MOIRA is the person who spent 45 minutes with us initially in the store and helped us pick out the furniture and yet Moira is not getting the commission. I half wish, in the pit of my stomach, that we has just sent the fax back and seen if the furn that did or did not eventually show up was ours or at least not dog-butt-ugly.

I think this is the most spine-free ruglike pathetic reaction that any human has erver had in the history of furniture buying, and I can’t help but wonder if I have this bizarre sorrowful misplaced guilt because I am FEMALE or because I am SOUTHERN or both?

Let’s make a deal. If YOU know, you tell me. And if I ever frickn figure it out, I will let you know.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:58 AM | Comments (36)

November 13, 2007

The Sales Prevention Program Sleigh Bed War (Part the First)

Remember yesterday's opening paragraph where I complained in a sideways manner about sales prevention specialists and intimated that my dog sometimes eats things that are not appropriate to eat, for example, literary icon Pat Conroy? I am pleased to report that Mr. Conroy was not the eaten thing. He was merely an EXAMPLE of things my dog WOULD eat if he found them in the den.

What Bagel ACTUALLY ate was my chair. I mean….he ATE it. Like sat there watching the air molecules drifting about and vacantly, not even really NOTICING he was doing it, ATE UP THE CHAIR, and if he thought AT ALL it went something like, "Well if she didn't want me to EAT IT why did she leave it here on the carpet?" He is approaching his second birthday and isn’t TEETHING supposed to STOP at some point??? WHEN IS THAT POINT? Is it BEFORE or AFTER I have him assassinated by dog-ninjas?

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Oh—this is priceless…THE WHOLE TIME HE ATE IT, Maisy was sitting on the silver speckled trunk that serves us as a coffee table, drawing pictures of warring balloon animals. I came in and saw what the dog had done and I said, “HARGLE! GARG! GARG! OH SHHHHHHHH-ugar. OH OH SUGAR!!!!” SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHUUUUUUUUUUUGAR!”

And Maisy looked where I was looking and said, “He shunt have done that.”
And I said, “NO! No, he SHUNT.”
Maisy: *world weary* I told him.
Me: You SAW him? You SAW him eating the chair?
Maisy: Yes. It took him a long time!
Me; WHY DID YOU NOT COME GET ME???
Maisy: *shrugging and wide-eyed* …I forgot?
Me: Oooooooh….sugar.

Digression: The next day Maisy dropped a toy that bounced ALL THE WAY down the stairs and Scott heard her say, OH! SUGAR! in her little peepy voice. She looked down and saw him and said, “That’s what Mommy says when she is SO MAD!” I feel I deserve 500 PARENTAL EXCELLENCE points for THAT one. Here endeth the digression.

Now please understand – our den ALREADY looked like the kind of den BEARS live in.

I have previously posted pictures of the cat chair with the back ripped out;

my son has clambered around on the sofa like a monkey until the side arm wobbles like a Weeble who senses the approach of the glorious day when he at last, at last, will be allowed to fall down;

one of the stacking tables is three legged because a friend’s exceedingly mighty baby somehow tipped it over and ripped the leg off (BamBam???);

ALL the hideously expensive wooden blinds the previosu owner placed pristinely in the windows have a slat or two that some cat or child has chipped, chewed, broken out entirely, folded, spindled, or mutilated;

my TV table with the elephant fabric skirt has had, sometime in the last three weeks, a large and MYSTERIOUS PICK HOLE suddenly appear in the fabric --- front and center of course;

I took a silver Sharpie and was drawing stars all over a black sheet to hang as a starry nights backdrop for the Trunk or Treat fairy forest, and I chose to do this project on the chest that serves as our coffee table, and I neglected to connect two seemingly disparate ideas:
1) SHARPIES are permanent markers and
2) sheets are thin,
so now the table top has a slightly fainter starry night permanently glowing on top of it;

I refer to the sideboard lamp as THE TRICK LAMP because if you look DIRECTLY at it so that your eyelashes cause a breeze to waft toward it, it falls into chunks.

AND AND AND (as a Best Beloved once pointed out in poorly disguised horror) I keep a nest of plague covered drooling GERBILS on the counter between my den and the kitchen, so on the last day before a cage clean, the whole destroyed, trashy, falling apart room smells every so faintly of RODENT.

Since I am STILL not ready to sell the children, throw the gerbils into the creek, eat the dog, and give the cats to the Good Will, it’s not like that room is going to ever ever ever be….nice.

And it is not like I CARE most days.

But on the day the dog ate the chair, I had a HUGE attack of CARING. All of a sudden, I wanted a NICE ROOM. My office is trash heap stacked on top of a waste pile, our basement is a toy graveyard, the kitchen is a mish mash mess, all my plants are dead, the kids rooms stink of chaos, the guest room is mostly full of Nordic Track and OUR bedroom, dear LORD! It looks like a graduate student’s apartment bedroom because we STILL have that same furniture: A slim chest my mom gave us and Scott's grammas dresser in a finish and style so different it could be called an OPPOSING dresser. Our nice mattress and box spring sits atop the metal frame that came free with purchase. A bookshelf so tall and thin that it must be ATTACHED to the wall to be safe, and which has never, in three years, gotten attached, is LEANED aslant against one wall. While it waits to be stood upright and attached, its shelves have magically filled with clothes that need to go to the dry cleaner and two garbage bags of outfits and shoes that my kids outgrew that I have meant to take to goodwill for 18 months now and a plethora of mysterious papers and half finished childly art projects.

GRANTED – I DO have ONE nice room. The dining room is a museum celebrating the beauty of my mother’s pecan-wood dining set, but no one is allowed in that room. NO! ONE! EVER. Not so much as a TOE of LIVING CREATURE may be poked across the threshold. I have velvet ropes up at the entrance and an angel with a flaming sword is stationed by the ropes and anyone who tries to go on there and TOUCH my mother’s beautiful pecan-wood dining room furniture has his or her head lopped off forthwith.

But after the dog ATE MY CHAIR I started wishing for a nice room that we were actually allowed to LIVE in. Just ONE. JUST ONE. And I realized it was NOT going to be the den because the children and pets would systematically destroy ANYTHING I attempted in there. It needed to be a room that was MOSTLY for grown ups. So. My bedroom. I decided I wanted to redo my bedroom, and it SEEMS LIKE….how hard can that be. You paint. You invest in furniture. You ask for things for Christmas that will make it all nice and fancy. HOW. HARD CAN. IT. BE?

To be con’t
Shush. Farm plan later, because, dude… the DOG ATE MY CHAIR.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:20 AM | Comments (25)

November 12, 2007

Notes from Atop the Soapbox

I’ve been meaning to bring you this Pat Conroy letter for quite some time, but *pls insert lame excuse here* (sample excuses: “I was tired, I was busy, I was fruitlessly trying to get the Customer Prevention Specialists at Bassett to sell me some *@&^(*^@(&$#% furniture,” even “The dog ate Pat Conroy” would work.)

BAD DOG! BAD BAD! DO NOT EAT MR. CONROY! We LOVE Pat Conroy, not only because he writes superfantastic books, but because he writes superfantastic letters. A bookseller I know and heart sent this to me with a note that said, “didn't know you and Pat Conroy were related.”

After reading his letter, I truly wish we were. It begins like this:

A Letter to the Editor of the Charleston Gazette:

I received an urgent e-mail from a high school student named Makenzie Hatfield of Charleston, West Virginia. She informed me of a group of parents who were attempting to suppress the teaching of two of my novels, “The Prince of Tides” and “Beach Music.” I heard rumors of this controversy as I was completing my latest filthy, vomit-inducing work. These controversies are so commonplace in my life that I no longer get involved. But my knowledge of mountain lore is strong enough to know the dangers of refusing to help a Hatfield of West Virginia. I also do not mess with McCoys….

You can read the rest here.

I would like to add, there are books I tell my kids they are too young to read. I think gods in Alabama, for example, is R rated. I’m involved in a writers in schools program here in Georgia, and I ask them to use BETWEEN if lower classmen are involved because I think you need to be THIS HIGH to ride that ride. I made that decision when Maisy meandered up to me holding gods and asked when she could read MY book, and I immediately, without thinking, said, “OH! BUNNY! How sweet you want to read Mommy’s book. You can read it when you are 30!” I think we can all agree that innocence is valuable and worth preserving for the few short years our children are gifted with it. And yet I too feel COnroy's "LAY MY BOOKS AT THE ALTAR OF GOD" thing very strongly, feel that gods, moreso than Between, is a reflection of the world as I find it. And... opening up the world via good books, via LITERATURE, esoecially literature in the hands of a good and passionate teacher, for the love of Pete, is not a violation of that innocence.

Conroy’s books will, I believe, stand up to time and still be taught years from now. And they should be. Not only because of Conroy’s facility with and obvious love for language, but because these, with empathy and with a huge and sometimes terrible beauty, resonate truthfully as they reflect the world our children live in with us.

ANd for the record? There’s sex and violence in Romeo and Juliette, SCREAMING HORDES of it, but luckily, the archaic language means only the kids who are righteously studying it suss out those bits *grin*

Posted by joshilyn at 10:49 AM | Comments (20)

November 9, 2007

Cat Blather from the Wrong Side of Tired

I am GIDDY with tired, but the audiobook is done, a day ahead of schedule. I REALLY like reading them. I wish I could read MORE of them, it is so fun…I guess I need to WRITE faster.

You know I like to keep this blog PG-13, so I should perhaps warn you that this particular entry contains mild adult humor….well, the humor of a VERY tired and admittedly immature adult, but still. Is that too vague? Maybe I should simply title the entry "WARNING: CONTAINS TESTICLES!"

I am SO tired that over the last week, reading this audiobook, I have gotten into the habit of calling the cats by ADJECTIVES that indicate the ways in which they are different instead of by name. So Boggart is called “Little” and “Yellow” and “Skinny” while Schubert is called “Big” and “Brown” and “Round.”

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Sample: “Little is sitting on the gerbil house again---can you grab that water bottle and give him a spray?”
or “YELLOW! Stop attacking my feet!”
Or, my favorite, yesterday the dog was pestering Schubert, asking over and over if he wanted to play. Schubert emphatically does not ever wish to play, thanks Dog, and it was clear that Bagel was about to be Taught a Valuable Lesson. Scott, watching this play out, turned to the dog and intoned in the rich voice of the guy who does the voice-overs for the UPS commercials, “What can Brown do TO YOU?”

Yes, Scott has picked up on the adjectival nicknames, and then, even though HE IS USING THEM TOO, began MOCKING the identity crisis I am causing in the feline population of Chez Jackson by making up his OWN sets of names. For example, he calles Boggart “Two,” and Schubert either “One” or “None.” Two and One could refer to either the order in which we AQUIRED the cats, but I rather suspect it is referring to the number of eyes owned by each. Which means Two and None probably refers to OTHER things that one cat has two of, and that the cat lacks entirely. *cough*

Are you with me? Yes, I think he DOES mean the most obvious bits that male cats use to make more cats. This was confirmed when he stopped calling them TWO and NONE, replacing that set of adjectives with “Sack o’ nuts” and “Sack o’ Nuttin'.”

(OH SHUT UP, BOB BARKER!!!!! The kitten is not 6 months old yet, and OF COURSE, OF COURSE, come January we will do the responsible thing and take the kitten to the vet and when he comes home they will be called, ummmm, None and ... Still None?)


Posted by joshilyn at 7:13 AM | Comments (16)

November 7, 2007

3 Q with Jackie Kessler

As you may recall, I am reading the audio version of TGWSS this week. I am WIPED. WIPED. You wouldn't think sitting in a box for 5 or 6 hours and making the mouthy yip-yap would be so different from a long afternoon in a coffeehouse, but I came home and went to bed at 7 pm last night. I just woke up. SO! Apparently it IS different. I'm drinking that tea that tastes like it was made out of dried monkey butts and sulpher to protect my throat, and listening to the audio version of THE KITE RUNNER on my 90 minute to-and-fros to the studio to foster a huge inferiority complex. SO ALL IS GOOD HERE.

Today Jackie Kessler is in charge of FTK. Maybe tomorrow, Pat Conroy. Sort of. *grin* Jacki's new book, THE ROAD TO HELL hit shelves yesterday -- it's so fresh the red paint is still wet --- and she's doing a neat promo thing on her blog. You could win an ipod---details in the interview.

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Publisher's Weekly says, "Kessler's raunchy blend of heaven, hell and eros makes for a wild thrill ride, and hot, tough-talking Jesse has gumption and sass." Want to know more? Jackie has made a BOOK TRAILER ---and you know, this is one of the best ones I have seen. It gives a really clear idea of what the book is about, tells you just enough, and uses a combo of images and music that sets tone so you know at once if this is your kind of thing. You can see it here.

JJ: How did you research stripping? Books and google? or did you have to
experience stripping to be able to write about it?

JK: Contrary to popular belief, I did not work my way through college by
stripping at a local gentlemen's club. I read tons of books, written by and
about exotic dancers. I watched STRIPTEASE (and fast forwarded to the dance
scenes). I watched HBO's G-STRING DIVAS. And I visited a strip club and took
notes. My Loving Husband, who completely supports my research, accompanied
me. (But he politely refused my offer of me buying him a lap dance.)

JJ: So, you've weathered the release of your debut novel with grace and
aplomb---How is the publication of a second novel different?

JK: More stress!

Actually, I did a lot more promotion for the second book -- I launched an
entire campaign to encourage people to Hit the ROAD. (Plug! Plug! Check out
my website for details...and you could win an iPod Nano!)
Have I mentioned
that I'm learning the subtle art of bribery?

JJ: Your book is shelved in romance, but it has elements of urban fantasy. can
you explain how having a sort of hybrid of genres helped or hurt you as you
tried to market your book?

JK: It was a surprise to me that my novel was bought and marketed as a
paranormal romance; I'd written it as an urban fantasy. So I had to learn a
lot about the romance genre and market -- and I was thrilled to discover
just how passionate and loyal romance readers are. They are also more
inclined, generally speaking, to read urban fantasy novels than fantasy
readers are to read romance novels. So the battle for me is convincing
devoted urban fantasy readers to take a chance on a book with the word
"romance" on the spine.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:49 AM | Comments (4)

November 4, 2007

Get-away Gardens

Calloway is awesome. First we went to see the butterfly house. We took some pictures, but they refused to capture the experience. Pre-actually going, I was not all that enthused about the idea of visiting some relatively attractive bugs in a glass house. The BETWEEN, GEORGIA connection was strong enough to arouse a corner of my interest, so I thought, “Oh we will poke our heads in and see Butterflies, I guess…” but THEN! When we actually walked in, C.S. Lewis was hiding in some bushes and he popped out and kicked me in the nads.

Figuratively. C.S. Lewis is dead and I don’t HAVE nads. But that’s what it felt like.

By which I mean, I had the kind of spiritual experience he speaks of, the kind I NEVER have because, you know, I don’t like songs or nature and basically have a wizened acorn the squirrels rejected where the human soul sits. But. Oh. BUT! OH!

THE BUTTERFLIES.
They were so IMPROBABLE.
So SILLY.
Decked in such frivolous colors.
And they were all sailing and flapping about like alive tissues that God had tie-dyed. And there were hundreds of kinds and yet each kind had found its exact match and was poodling around and around, circling each other and the room and the trees and my body in pairs. They were busy and alive and unsentient and dear and I found myself being splashily filled to overflowing with carbonated liquid happiness, gobsmacked into joy at the lovely grand design of it all it all it all.

If you’ve experienced the C.S. Lewis nad-kick, then you know what I mean. If you have not, go see the butterfly house. It ,might work for you. I hear the Grand Canyon can do it for some people, although to me it’s like..”Oh. A big pretty hole. Let’s go have lunch.” Scott gets it from DAMS and QUARKS. It’s bizarre and leaves you breathless and pleased with the bigness of time and the universe and the speck-like, blink-fast spot in it that only you can fill.

SO, then we went to see birds of prey. They had a GORGEOUS red tail hawk named Tindell and it was neat to see him up close because a pair nests at my mom’s house and we see them sailing about. And we saw an OWL named Cedar with TUFTY ear points and a furry nose and ridiculous bulb-y mushrooms for eyes, very charming. BUT! My fave was Vinnie. Vinnie the vulture.

He was a TEENAGE vulture who humped around following his handler like the bird version of Marty Feldman---it was a lurching gurgle of a walk, funny every time. She had a pocket full of meat and he kept swooping at her to try and stuff his WHOLE BIG UGLY BALD head in the pocket. He was about 50 pounds of chuffy personality in a 20 pound rotten-flesh-eating baggy, and I LOVED him. Here he is:

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Then we went and shot SKEETS! I am super very great at it!!!! SO ARE YOU!!!! I know this because you shoot skeet with a SHOTGUN! BLAM! So you do not have to waste your time with little things other guns require. For example, AIMING.

The shotgun blasts out a huge radius of CARNAGE and you just line the gun up so the skeet is IN that radius. If you try to aim, you get stuck in your head and your shoulders hunch up and you SOMEHOW miss, but it is not easy. You have to be very tense indeed. But if you go down and live in your body instead of your brain and relax, you will absolutely blast those boogers right out of the sky. I experienced shattering vioctory over MANY MANY skeets, and as we left the air was full of the lamentations of the tens of skeet-women we had widowed that day.

All I need to do now is go shoot rifles and then I have a pretty good handle on GUNS for this book I think. Shotguns, for the record, kick the CRAP out of a person’s shoulder. YARG!

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This is me shooting. Note my authentic SKEET SHOOTING hat which the shotgun trainer guy put on my head because my authentic skeet-shooting hair kept blowing into my authentic skeet-shooting MAC lip gloss.

Posted by joshilyn at 12:09 PM | Comments (24)

November 1, 2007

3 Questions with Jana DeLeon

Oh hi. I cannot crazy any farm plans, because I have to leap in the car and go!
Scott and I are heading to Callaway Gardens for Hiking, butterfly seeing, and kissing. The kids are here with my parents for too much candy eating, no bedtime, and other assorted grandparental spoilings. SO EVERYONE IS HAPPY.

While I trit trot away in my boots, allow Jana DeLeon to entertain you with tales about her new book UNLUCKY the story of a woman SO unlucky she turns it into a profession; she works “cooling” cards on her uncle’s casino boat. As long as the crooks invited to his special poker tournament don’t win their money back, she’ll get a cut of the profit.

But Mal isn’t the only one working some major mojo. There’s a dark-eyed dealer named Jake Randoll who is really an undercover agent, and for a Yank, he’s pretty darn smart. Smart enough to enlist her help to catch a money launderer. As they race to untangle a web of decades-old lies and secrets amid a gathering of criminals, Mallory can’t help hoping her luck’s about to change….

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JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did growing up in Louisiana influence your work?

JDL: Growing up in Louisiana is the reason I write. Without the culture and the fascinating people to draw from, I don't think I'd have any stories to tell. I plan on setting all my books in small bayou towns. I try to create settings so large they become a character and the characters, well, some of them are already walking among us. I think a lot of people are fascinated by the bayou culture and I'm thrilled to be able to give them a little taste of that.

JJ: So, you've weathered the release of your debut novel with grace and aplomb---How is the publication of a second novel different?

JDL: The second book was so much harder. My debut novel did well and garnered great reviews and public accolades, which is great, but that means the next book has to be better. When you write humor, you've got to be very careful not to spend too much time thinking about all the pressure or you don't relax enough for the funny dialogue to flow. UNLUCKY was a difficult book for me to write, but I worked it out and in writing my proposal for the next book, I didn't have the difficulties I did writing UNLUCKY at all. UNLUCKY was a huge growth process for me and I'm really glad it happened. Now, I believe in myself and my ability to put out a great book, under a deadline, AND still be funny.

JJ: What the heck are "coolers?"

JDL: A cooler is a person so unlucky that casinos hire them to sit at a hot table and shut the other players down. I came up with the idea for UNLUCKY because unfortunately, cooling cards is a job I'd be really good at.
My husband and I got married in Vegas in 2000. Before we left, I studied and studied blackjack combinations, determined to beat the house. Unfortunately, I have absolutely, positively NO LUCK. In fact, my luck is so bad that when I sit down at a table, not only don't I win, everyone else starts losing too. So I came up with Mallory Devereaux, the unluckiest woman in the world, who needs to make some money fast and decides to do it by "cooling" cards at a poker tournament of criminals.

While writing UNLUCKY, I contacted several casinos, both in Louisiana and Las Vegas. None of them would confirm or deny the existence of coolers.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:45 AM | Comments (1)